Saturday, August 15, 2009

US must heed electronic terror threat

AssociatedPress

ELMA, N.Y. — A New York businessman is sounding the alarm on a potential terror threat that he says has not gotten the attention or action it deserves, despite a congressional committee's finding that the country grows more vulnerable to it by the day.

Henry Schwartz, chairman of Steuben Foods and Elmhurst Dairy, is so concerned that an enemy's electromagnetic pulse attack could paralyze America that he will gather a group of scientists, congressmen and others for a conference next month on how the country should protect itself.

"I've never lived in fear in my life," said Schwartz, 75, an Air Force veteran whose unit handled nuclear warheads in Europe, "but I have to tell you, I'm in fear now."

An electromagentic pulse, or EMP, is a split-second burst of energy that occurs when a nuclear device is detonated high in the atmosphere. A Department of Homeland Security disaster guide for the public explains an EMP "acts like a stroke of lightning but is stronger, faster and shorter."

Experts warn an EMP attack with even a crude nuclear device has the potential to disable or burn out everything from cell phones and personal computers to vehicle ignitions, power grids and air traffic control systems within 1,000 miles, all while having no direct effect on people.

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